Wednesday, 29 October 2014

When the Media come good on food sensitivities

Given my last post was a rant about media - namely Marie Claire - getting it very wrong, in this case on the subject of gluten-free skincare, and that poor articles on food sensitivity have fuelled many other stroppy posts on this blog, it seems only fair to point out that sometimes, writers get it very right too.

The last few weeks have seen really good coverage of some of the most exciting issues in food sensitivity - non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, the microbiome / bacteria, FODMAPs, and all that wheat-related jazz .... although the grumpy part of me can't help but wish that sub-editors would really put their minds to try to think up some article titles on matters gluten-related other than 'Against the Grain', 'Grain of Truth' and 'Gluten for Punishment' .... How about 'Cereal Offenders'? Been done? If not, you can have that one on me ....

Anyway. The brilliant US blogger Gluten Dude, who, I admit, earlier in the month - along with some of his followers - upset me somewhat with sceptical and dismissive comments about some incredible (at least to my mind) research into a 'coeliac friendly' GM wheat in Italy, came good yet again with an excellent, straightforward, but detailed interview with Dr Peter Gibson (of NCGS / FODMAPs research notoriety / fame). He teased so much good information out of his expert, which demonstrated to me the importance of top notch allergy / free from bloggers in covering stories in a manner which no conventional media outlet possibly could or would.

This from the Economist is a short and readable piece on how food industry is changing with the gluten free boom. And this story from Time on the rise of coeliac in recent history, and the role the microbiome (gut bacteria) may play, is also brief and very interesting. It also covers the latest disappointing results of research into the timing of introduction of gluten into high-risk infants and the benefits of breastfeeding. The 'failure' is clear to us, but perhaps in time, the community will come to realise that at least we have ruled out a potentially fruitful avenue of research, and can now perhaps concentrate on others.

From brief to (very) long, but (very) much worth your time. This piece in the New Yorker, out this week, is possibly the best essay I have ever read on the entire gluten-free phenomenon, taking in NCGS, FODMAPs, bread-making and vital wheat gluten, the probable myth of wheat-breeding being to blame for the rise in coeliac disease, the modern Western diets, the microbiome, the understated problem of self-diagnosis and so much more. 

If you can't face reading it all (I would guess it's at least 5,000 words, probably a bit more), take this devastating extract, which I think summarises perfectly why we're in such a mess with this:
"... there is convincing and repeated evidence that dietary self-diagnoses are almost always wrong, particularly when the diagnosis extends to most of society. We still feel more comfortable relying on anecdotes and intuition than on statistics or data"

Monday, 20 October 2014

Gluten Free Beauty Won’t Save Your Life

More nonsense in gluten-free with the publication of this under-researched, alarmist and inaccurate article on gluten-free skincare in Marie Claire

Women’s magazines, like all magazines, exist to make money. To some extent, most women’s magazines achieve this by being seen to sell to their readers - selling a lifestyle, typically, of the rich and famous and beautiful, one of aspiration. Some do it by fear - fear that you may be too fat, that you’re wearing the wrong clothes, that you will never find a partner because you’re doing some intangible thing wrong. The message is ‘consume, and you will improve yourself’. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

What Djokovic Says; What Djokovic Does

What Djokovic says

Extracted from Serve to Win, by Novak Djokovic:

“… when you think of foods that spike your insulin, you generally think of sugary foods: candy, ice cream, honey or cookies … such foods raise your blood sugar and trigger an insulin in response”

Monday, 8 September 2014

Muffs and More at the Speciality and Fine Food Fair

A quick round-up of some new free-from – mainly gluten free – products I spotted at the annual Speciality & Fine Food Fair yesterday.

Inka Snacks’ Salted Amazon Plantain Chips
Look like banana chips, but ‘banana’s big brother’ as Mariana, the Peruvian MD of Inka Snacks, described them to me, these are far less sweet, and nicely savoury and moreish. Gluten free – and made in a nut-free environment. They also produce salted roasted giant corn, in original and chilli flavours, which you can buy singly or in bulk from Amazon.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Lupin the friend, lupin the foe …

Quick post about a news item this week which caught my eye, on the increasing prevalence of lupin being used in products Stateside.

Lupin has the potential to cross-react with peanut and soya – meaning some people with peanut and soya allergies will react (potentially dangerously) to this legume, even upon first contact with it. This is not in itself news: we have known about it for at least a decade. Lupin is one of the 14 key declarable allergens - having been added along with molluscs to the other 12 in (I think) 2012.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Some things change, some stay the same ...

There’s been a great deal of media coverage of free from and food sensitivities lately, and it’s worth remembering how far we have come on this. I recall pitching allergy, intolerance and coeliac-related articles to magazines and papers ten, even five, years ago, and struggling to get much interest from editors. Securing publicity for my first book on food intolerance was impossible in mainstream publications.

Now? Things have changed. The subject is everywhere - which has got to be good - and there are more bloggers too. The material is not always right, nor high quality, and we all (few more so than me) like to moan - often quite rightly - about slip-ups or inaccuracies or journalism which is disrespectful to those with serious food-related illness - but I do think, on the whole, standards are improving. Besides, even when lacking, it gets people talking.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

A spelty food label

Here’s a label on a Biona vegan mini-burger product, which I think is interesting for two reasons.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Why ‘Vegan’ is not always ‘Dairy Free’

It started with a tweet from Carly (@GfreeB) about a Montezuma’s label reading ‘free from … gluten’, an expression not permitted under labelling law. The words have to be ‘gluten free’, although many companies slip up, most recently Saclá, with their ‘free from wheat, gluten and dairy’-fronted new pestos.